ATR hopes for 500 at Geisinger ride today
COAL TOWNSHIP - The president of a nonprofit behind today's benefit trail ride for the Children's Miracle Network at the Anthracite Outdoor Adventure Area (AOAA) hopes to use off-roading events to raise money for local causes.
Matt Schiccatano, of Coal Township, founder and president of the Anthracite Trail Riders, said the group is willing to organize and facilitate benefit trail rides and poker runs.
He said local fire companies are an example of groups that could benefit from a trail ride. "We'll run it for you, you guys make the money."
The Anthracite Trail Riders, or ATR, was loosely organized two years ago. The group was approved as an official 501(c)3 nonprofit in July. As of Friday, it had 215 members.
It also has liability insurance and has recently been approved to sell passes to the AOAA to ATR members only, which are expected to go on sale later this month.
Schiccatano stressed that ATR is an independent group. It works with AOAA to use the park, but it doesn't take direction from the AOAA Authority, he said.
"We're our own entity. We're our own club," he said.
ATR teamed with Geisinger's Children's Miracle Network for a trail ride last year. It was held on a Sunday in October and drew a crowd of about 250.
By moving the event to a Saturday in mid-September, Schiccatano and company hope to get better weather and a larger draw. Weather.com forecasts today's high at 68 degrees with clear skies.
"We're hoping to double what we did last year," Schiccatano said. "Everyone who rode had a good time last year."
Riders interested should simply show up to the park today. Registration is from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and riders will embark in organized groups on the approximately 30-mile trip.
Cost is $20 for operators and passengers, $10 for minors. Proceeds will be used toward pediatric equipment, programs and services at Janet Weis Children's Hospital and throughout Geisinger Health System, according to a press release.
ATR members are allowed to ride ATVs, UTVs and dirt bikes at the AOAA. The hope is that members will soon be allowed to also drive full-size trucks and rock climbers on the grounds.
Schiccatano said he believes many area riders are on the fence right now concerning the AOAA. If the park is a success, he said they'll embrace it, and he expects ATR memberships to increase.
For more information about ATR or to become a member, go to Facebook.com/AnthraciteTrailRiders. Memberships will also be sold at today's event at the AOAA. The main entrance is along Route 125 above Burnside.